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My semester in Derby

Image by Katrin Heil
Image by Katrin Heil

The University of Derby is quite a big University with almost 30.000 students. The University has three different locations and of them is in Derby. In Derby there are also three different buildings, the main building, where I had all my lectures, is located a little outside of the city. However, there is the Unibus which is free for students and connects the city centre and the University buildings.

My course was called ‘Child and Youth Studies’ and I had to choose three modules from level four, five or six, which is year one, two and three. Each course had 20 credits, which is 10 ECTS.
The modules I choose were:

  • Children’s and Young People’s Education (Level 4)
  • Special Educational Needs and Disability (Level 6)
  • Professional Practitioner (Level 6)

The whole course covers the age of 0 – 19 and therefore the content is very broad and not as specific as at the PHSt. I learned a lot about the English school system, which was very interesting. The teaching at the University and the relationship between students and professors are very different, it seems friendlier and not as formal as in Austria. Furthermore, all lectures in my course were very helpful and supportive.

I didn’t have any exams but for each module, I had to write an essay and another more practical orientated paper (report, reflective diaries and a case study).

In the beginning, the international student’s center organizes the induction week and also many events and trips. They a very supportive and care a lot about their international student’s well-being. There is a wide community of international students in Derby and to connect all those people there are always different events and parties which are organized from the ambassador.

The University offers many different societies and sport-clubs and it is common for students to join at least one of them. At the beginning of the semester, there is a fair where the sport-clubs and societies introduce themselves. Furthermore, the University also has a sports center, which is new and offers a gym, different sport classes, climbing wall and different sport courts. It is very convenient because it is just next to the main building and there are discounts for students.

During my semester I also had a placement in Ashgate Primary School, which is a public school in Derby. I did my school practice in a year one class which means the children are five to six years old. I had to attend two days a week and my role was being a teaching assistant. I helped the teacher to prepare material for the lessons and I mainly worked with small groups of pupils or individually with children who needed extra help or had to finish their work. However, I also got to teach a science lesson by myself, which was a great experience to teach in a different country.

School starts at 8.40 am and ends at 3.20 pm with a one-hour break for lunch and fifteen minutes of playtime in the morning and afternoon.

The school system and teaching is very different in England than Austria. Each classroom has a smartboard and the teacher works quite a lot with it and everything is more teacher centered. In year one the main subjects are maths, literacy and phonics which they usually do in the morning and in the afternoon, they also have science, ICT, physical education, history, art and guided reading.

In comparison to most Erasmus students, I lived in a private accommodation. I shared a house with three other girls. I searched for my accommodation at a website called ‘spareroom’ and afterward I found out it even was a student approved accommodation from the University. You can also look for private accommodation at the University of Derby website, which just shows you student approved accommodations.

I really liked living in a private house because I got really lucky which my housemates, the location was great and it was less expensive than the student halls. Nevertheless, it definitely requires more effort, first of all to find the accommodation and dealing with bills can be a hassle.

Living in the student halls also has some great advantages, for instance, they always organize social events, which is great for meeting people and a lot of fun and all my friends were pleased living there during their Erasmus.

Links for the accommodation search:

Derby is a very nice City and located in the east midlands. Due to the University there a lot of young people and you definitely won’t get bored in Derby. The city offers plenty of restaurants, parks, a gigantic shopping mall, the INUT, cinemas, and a lot more. There are a lot of places where they offer student discount for example at the cinema and the theatre.

Derby has a good nightlife with a lot of different very cosy and cool pubs and some of them also offer live music. There are also a few nightclubs where it can get quite busy at night on the weekends as well as during the week.

It is very easy to travel from Derby – there are a busses and trains which take you almost everywhere around Great Britain. Not far from Derby is the Peak District, which is a National Park and it is beautiful to spend a day or more there to explore and hike different trails. The next biggest City is Nottingham, which also has lot to offer and is worth checking out.

The University of Derby is a great University for spending an Erasmus semester! 😊

Katrin Heil

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